Author Archives: Lascap

What should we call simulated data?

Data is not made. Data is born as a result of a measurement process. Taking measurements (in conjunction with a measurement theory) creates data. But then, what should we call – in contrast – the results of simulations, the output of … Continue reading

Posted in Pet peeve, Philosophy, Science | 1 Comment

A tale of two wars

We are upon the 100 year anniversary of the start of the 1st world war. Most people alive today don’t fully appreciate the cataclysmic forces that were unleashed in this conflict, several of which still shape world events today. Of … Continue reading

Posted in History, Strategy | 1 Comment

The relative scale of early visual areas

The visual system of primates comprises a large number of distinct cortical areas containing neurons that modulate their activity in response to a visual stimulus and are believed to represent different aspects of the visual scene. It has been recognized … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Science | Leave a comment

Ideology poisons everything, as it rotates perceptions of reality

It is obvious where ideology comes from. It solves a lot of problems. A small tribe needs to agree on a distinct course of coherent action. Otherwise, its strength is frittered away, defeating the very point of finding strength in … Continue reading

Posted in Social commentary | 1 Comment

The social mission of perceptual research

Our perception corresponds to an idiosyncratic model of reality, not reality itself. This is easy to forget, as we all share a common outside environment in the form of external reality and process it with a cognitive apparatus that has … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Social commentary | 3 Comments

A primer on the neuroscience of happiness

The age old question of what makes for a happy life is of great interest to almost anyone who is in fact alive. A classic answer, building on Aristotelian notions of happiness, is provided by Charles Murray who points out … Continue reading

Posted in In eigener Sache, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology, Social commentary, Technology | 1 Comment

The consolation of temporal perspective

Few things are more discouraging and galling to the righteous than the raging success of the obviously undeserving and unworthy. This can be particularly dispiriting early in life. The wise will recognize that virtue and non-virtue have fundamentally different time … Continue reading

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SfN 2013 in San Diego

This post will document my annual pilgrimage to SfN. This year (as in 2004, 2007 and 2010), it will take place in San Diego. See here how I prepare for the event and what I recommend how to go about … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Science | Leave a comment

You really do need to sleep right

Two years ago, I wrote extensively why getting sufficient sleep is crucial to a good life and how to go about getting establishing sufficient levels of quality and quantity. Since then,  the situation has – if anything – gotten even … Continue reading

Posted in Neuroscience, Optimization, Science, Social commentary | 2 Comments

The paradox of progress

I often wonder how people managed to get by a thousand years ago, without effective anesthetics or antibiotics or even a fundamental understanding of the underlying causes of illness and disease. However, I realize that people a thousand years from … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science, Social commentary, Strategy | 1 Comment

On the importance of consistent mapping

The problem I’m about to write about has been persisting for quite a while and I thought Google would have fixed it by now. Alas, no such luck, thus far. In a nutshell, we have been aware of the extreme … Continue reading

Posted in Misc, Optimization, Pet peeve | Leave a comment

Data were analyzed using Matlab…

It is important to use the right tools for a given job. Science is no exception. In particular, given the vast amounts of data that are now routinely encountered in the field, one will want to use the best available … Continue reading

Posted in Matlab, Neuroscience, Psychology, Science | 8 Comments

A more general relationship between relevance and rigor

Recently, SMBC (one of the few webcomics still worth reading, as he somehow manages to be uncorrupted by his own success) posted another inimitable offering. Except that in this case, it is actually perfectly imitable. This kind of thing can … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | Leave a comment

Superior motion perception in individuals with autism?

The empirical evidence seems to contradict Betteridge’s law. For the past 10 years, research on the “spatial suppression effect” showed that large moving stimuli are more readily perceived than smaller ones. However, this relationship doesn’t seem to hold in certain … Continue reading

Posted in Psychology, Science | Leave a comment

Is there a relationship between weight and success in PhD programs?

TLDR: No. Details on caveats, background, methods and specific results below. On June 2nd 2013, Geoffrey Miller suggested on Twitter that there might be a strong relationship between excess body fat and adverse outcomes in PhD programs, mediated by willpower. … Continue reading

Posted in Science, Social commentary | 4 Comments

Local and global connectivity – a tale of two datasets

The original images were generated based on facebook friendship data as well as data on scientific collaborations from Elsevier’s Scopus. The map of scientific collaborations was in itself inspired by the facebook map – I considered a direct comparison to … Continue reading

Posted in Science | 1 Comment

The current mental health crisis and the coming Ketamine revolution

Few FDA approved drugs have a reputation as controversial as Ketamine. This reputation is well earned. Originally developed in the 1960s as a short-acting anesthetic for battlefield use, in recent decades it has become notorious as a date-rape drug (‘Special … Continue reading

Posted in Psychology, Science | 19 Comments

Dress images

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Can music elicit a visual motion aftereffect?

Briefly, if you look at a large moving scene for a while, you will experience things moving in the opposite direction afterwards. This “motion aftereffect” was already known to Aristotle, presumably from the visual inspection of waterfalls. It was rediscovered … Continue reading

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Bang or BAM? On respecting complex problems

There are simple problems that can be solved with a single bang. The task of understanding the (human) brain is not a simple problem. On the contrary, the classic quote “The brain, the masterpiece of creation, is almost unknown to … Continue reading

Posted in Science, Social commentary | 2 Comments